Monday, July 27, 2015

The Omily Tarot: Ladies' Night with the Tarot

My younger sister has a passing interest in the tarot that is always revitalized when we spend time together (which isn't much, since she lives at home with the fam in Ohio, and I live in Brooklyn). At every visit, she requests a tarot reading...usually pronounced so that it rhymes with 'carrot', which invariably makes me picture a sage staring at a row of carrots spread out on the floor...but as soon as I get through laughing, and correcting her for the upteenth time, I pull out a tarot deck, and we get down to business.

It can be almost more complex reading for a family member than it is reading for yourself, especially a younger family member, because you have a lot of ideas about who they are and who they're going to be, based on their similarities and differences to you, and plenty of advice for them along the way...which is great, and if they ask for it, you should share it, but a tarot reading is absolutely the wrong time to push your own agenda, which can be easier said than done.

I find myself gravitating toward short, simple spreads when I read for my sister, and I tend to keep my explanations short, simple, and strongly based in my existing ideas on card interpretation.

By contrast, I used the exact same spread for my sister's boyfriend, but I felt much more comfortable following my instincts, and elaborating on those basic interpretations of the cards to tell a more thorough narrative.

I don't know if my sister noticed the discrepancy or not. Maybe she was curious enough to know what his reading would be about to just enjoy the extra information and not compare the two readings. If she did notice anything, she kept it to herself.

But I noticed something about her reading that was exactly the kind of seemingly impossible syncronisity that reinforces my belief that there is something to this tarot stuff...
I chose the Princess of Cups (we were using the Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr) for her syndicate, based simply on her stage of life, and her appearance/personality. It's the same one I chose for myself when I was her age. I spread all the other cards on the floor, and swam my hands through, them thoroughly shuffling them up. My usual method at this point is to gather them all back up into a stack, offer the stack to the person I'm reading for to cut, then I choose the cards right off the top in order.

I started to do that, but then I stopped, and left the cards just as they were. I chose my three cards for the spread (a simple past/present/future spread) just based on the one that kind of sat up and waved at me from among the sea of cards. I laid the three cards out below the syndicate, and then I flipped them over. And then I stared.

 I had drawn the Princess of Staves, the Queen of Pentacles, and the Queen of Swords.

All feminine court cards, and including the syndicate, every suit in the deck was represented. After spending several days (an extension of a mission of a few years) educating her about feminism! It felt more like a reading for ME about her than a reading for her!

Or even a reading about me. A reminder that the journey really is the same...and that it repeats, over and over and my own exploration of feminist issues sparked passion and fury over my oppression, and my attempts to discuss it with those without a thorough understanding were quickly clouded with dark thunderheads of frustration...not so dissimilar from the passion and brightness of girlhood shifting to those emotional and all too often treacherous times of being a teen-ager.

The queen of coins stood sentinel in the middle, a card of achievement, and having it all...and it may seem that way to her, with her wonderful supportive family, good friends, and kind, slightly older boyfriend of nearly a year...and to me, too, because it's easy to think you have it all figured out when you're surrounded by people who think the same way you do, but the queen of swords in the future told me that she would learn the same lesson we all must: we never have it all, anymore than we ever know it all...and the more we learn, the more we realize we don't know, and don't have, and maybe will never have, and don't really want anyway.

I'm being forced to rethink, and carefully hone my thoughts on gender theory, goaded by such disparate challenges as whether or not my husband would let me do heroin (after all, it's your body, right?), and a threat by my sister to remain topless in my apartment for the rest of my visit. My mother might be rethinking the whole idea of bringing the two of them with her! Questing slowly but surely closer to the truth...whatever that means!

If I ever figure that one out, I know it will be with the help of the tarot.